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A commonly asked question we hear from dog lovers is “does the American Kennel Club like mixed breeds?” We’ve got over 1 million reasons to say yes — that’s how many dogs have been enrolled in the AKC Canine Partners program, devoted to mixed-breeds, since 2009.

The AKC stands for the love of all things dog, and mixed breeds are an important part of that community. Canine Partners’ ongoing popularity proves without a doubt that not only does the AKC like mixed-breeds, but also that mixed-breeds and their owners like the AKC.

What Is Canine Partners?

Canine Partners allows mixed breed dogs to compete in dog sports for AKC titles alongside purebred dogs. In 2023, there were 27,700 titles awarded to dogs enrolled in Canine Partners. Any dog ineligible for full AKC registration, including rare breeds, can enroll in Canine Partners as long as they meet the criteria. For example, dogs must be spayed or neutered by the time they’re adults, and can’t be wolf hybrids.

Once enrolled, dog owners gain access to a wide variety of benefits, including lifetime enrollment in AKC Reunite Lost & Found Recovery Service and a customized AKC Canine Partners Certificate of Recognition.

There are so many Canine Partners success stories. Among them is a mixed breed named “Roo!,” who bounced around the San Francisco shelter system before being discovered by animal trainer Stacy Campbell. Roo! went on to become a competitive agility superstar. She’s won big at the AKC Agility Invitational, the AKC National Agility Championship, and the Westminster Kennel Club. Roo! even went to Belgium as part of the AKC Agility World Team, competing against the world’s best agility dogs.

Mixed breed running after a lure in lure coursing.
Mark L. Baer/MLBaer Photography

Competing in Dog Sports With a Mixed Breed

If you’re a motivated owner of a well-trained dog, AKC titles are within your grasp. There’s an AKC sport for every dog and every owner, regardless of interest and temperament.

Mixed-breeds can earn AKC titles in the sports of obedience, AKC Rally, agility, tracking, and Coursing Ability Test (CAT). The AKC also recognizes titles offered by the North American Flyball Association and the Barn Hunt Association.

Each of these sports require a different set of skills and some are more intense than others. They’re activities all dogs can enjoy, but some might be more suited to your dog than others.

Another path to official titles is the AKC Canine Good Citizen program. It’s not a competitive sport, but if you’re looking to get more titles for your dog, this is another good place to start.

Conformation is the most well-known dog sport, and a sport that mixed breeds aren’t able to compete in. This is because in conformation, purebred dogs are judged against their breed standard of their breed, and there is no standard to compare mixed breed dogs against. Mixed breeds also can’t compete in breed-specific performance events, such as herding, hunt tests, and Earthdog.

Putting an AKC title on your mixed-breed in head-to-head competition with purebreds is a wonderful source of bragging rights at your local dog park. But at the end of the day, AKC dog sports are all about forging a closer, more fulfilling bond with your dog. When training for competitions results in a happy, well-socialized, and obedient dog, everyone in the dog community wins.

Related article: Tips for Getting Started in Dog Agility
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